Mary MacKillop Chapel grounds buckling under the strain of popularity

In 2017 over 53,000 pilgrims visited the Mary Mackillop Memorial Chapel, North Sydney, to pray at her tomb and see the museum, with over 20,000 electing to stay at the lodge on the same grounds.

The current guest’s lodge was built in the 1960s and the Sisters of St Joseph say it is approaching the end of its life.

To accommodate the increased demand, the Sisters would like to demolish the existing building and replace it with a four-storey lodge with a dining room, lounge and kitchen.

The development would cost $17,143,948, but would increase the number of rooms available from 31 to 51 and would include a 43 space underground carpark and a circular courtyard.

A development application for the work was filed with North Sydney Council last year, but has faced a number of challenges.

The planners working on the project withdrew the application after Council staff raised concerns about the design.

This led to a lowering of the building height by 650mm, reducing the number of rooms in the lodge from 54 in the first application to 51, while also increasing the building’s setback from William Street.

The revision has also led to a change in building materials and colours, with planning documents suggesting it would look similar to many university buildings.

The North Sydney Planning Panel is yet to approve the latest application, but hopefully will do so in March.

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Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

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